Hazelnut Banana Cake with Milk Chocolate Chunks


My son is growing like a weed. Almost every time I feed him, he finishes his plate, looks up at me, and says “Can I have some more to eat, I’m still hungry”. Clearly it won’t be long before he’s not looking up at me anymore, but looking down at me and saying the same thing. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, his father is a very tall man (6’7″ to be exact) and a good appetite runs in the family. But I have to confess that I often feel like I am running out of healthy snacks to offer him. After we’ve run the gamut of various fruits and vegetables, I stand there, cupboard open, wondering what I can give the child with the hollow legs so that he will be full enough to go off and play and not pester me for more food.

We go through bananas in this house at an alarming rate, so it’s a rare occasion when I have any overripe ones. In fact, if I want to make banana bread or muffins, I often have to look for the discounted brown ones at the grocery store. I grab them when I see them, and cut them up after I get home to put in the freezer for future baking. This serves a dual purpose, as my husband used the frozen banana chunks in his smoothies when we have no fresh ones. The last time I bought some overripe bananas, I deliberately kept out a few with the intention of baking something on the spot. But I didn’t get around to it right away and one of them disappeared…into a smoothie, if I am not mistaken.

The two remaining ones got very overripe before I finally figured out what I wanted to do with them. Banana bread would have been the obvious choice but I wanted something a little more interesting. I had in my head some sort of banana cake, but preferably one healthy enough to feed my kids for snack or breakfast. I mean, cake for breakfast…what kid doesn’t love that? I also wanted it to contain nuts, both for flavour and for the health benefits. But I had to be stealth about that, since both my older two kids are convinced that they don’t like any nuts besides peanuts. Oh, if they only knew how many cookies and crackers and such I’ve given them that are at least partially, if not entirely, made from nuts! As long as there aren’t chunks of nuts, they never know the difference.

I had some hazelnut flour on hand and it sounded like a good combination with the bananas. I came across THIS recipe and thought it sounded about right. First, I had to translate the metric into emperial – I may have grown up in Canada, where we talk about centimeters and kilometers, but I’ve never used the metric for baking in my entire life! I subbed in whole wheat flour, and changed the proportions to add in more of the flour and more of the hazelnut. I wanted the sweetness to come primarily from the bananas and the chocolate, so I kept sugar to a minimum. I also just used my hazelnut flour as it was, instead of using toasted hazelnuts, out of pure laziness.

The Results This isn’t really all that different from banana bread in flavour, although it is moister and a little more cake-like in consistency. My kids loved it, all three of them, and I don’t think calling it cake instead of bread hurt the cause! I had a little taste and it was quite good, but I had hoped the hazelnut flavour would come through more. I couldn’t really taste it at all and now wish that I had taken the time to either toast the hazelnut flour lightly or to use whole hazelnuts and toast and grind them. Toasting would have intensified the flavour and made it more apparent in the final product. As it was, this was more just like “banana cake”, rather than “hazelnut banana cake”.

Still, it was a hit with the kids and they enjoyed having it around for breakfast and snacks. It’s a great recipe overall for a healthy, whole wheat banana cake, but if you want the hazelnuts to have more presence, toast them first. Don’t be lazy like me!

Hazelnut Banana Cake with Chocolate Chunks

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup toasted, ground hazelnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla or hazelnut extract
2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup milk chocolate chunks or chips (I simply chopped up a bar of milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8 x 8 inch square pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, hazelnuts, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla or hazelnut extract until thoroughly combined. Beat in bananas.

Beat in flour mixture in two batches, alternating with milk. Stir in chocolate.

Spread batter in prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before serving.

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  1. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom says

    Sounds perfect just the way you made it. Not sure I would go the extra step of toasting the hazelnuts either. What I love the most is how it won't need a frosting or glaze because the sour cream and bananas make it so moist.

  2. Belinda @zomppa says

    I can only imagine how much food you go through! This bread (cake) is definitely up my ally!

  3. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says

    Is hazelnut flour just ground up hazelnuts? I am not the biggest hazelnut flavor fan so I'd probably love the subtle flavor in this cake. P.S. Your husband is so tall! How tall are you?

  4. safire says

    bananas – yum, hazelnuts – yum, chocolate – yummmmmm!

    This definitely looks like a winner!

  5. Megan @ Pip and Ebby says

    The banana turnover rate in our house is pretty high, too. :) I'm always looking for new banana recipes. Adding hazelnuts is brilliant! Love it, thank you for sharing this..

  6. Pretend Chef says

    My itty bitty is about to turn 3 at the beginning of June and he can be a selective eater too. If needed I'll "sneak" in the healthy stuff but after he's taken a few bites of said disliked food and a few "Nommies" I'll break the news to him that he's eating such and such. It has really helped with getting him to no longer put up a resistance to certain foods and he's more willing to try new things. I'm sure there'd be no hesitate with this cake though! Yummy!

  7. Parsley Sage says

    Looks like a winner to me. Sorry the hazelnut was hiding but now you know for next time. Although, toasting the nuts can be a pain… Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Jill Colonna says

    Your son is just so lucky. He may go through tons of food but he's got a mum who's feeding him healthy, gorgeous treats. I love the look of these since I also love ground hazelnuts and bananas. Brilliant, Carolyn.

  9. Food Glorious Food! says

    Lovely recipe! I love the combination of banana and nuts.. I am going to make this with walnuts though.. replacing hazelnuts which I do not have any right now.. hope it turns out as good! Thanks!

  10. Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog says

    OMG this cake has all the ingredients I love, hazelnuts, chocolate, banana = superb! :)



  11. The Mom Chef says

    My, this looks like my kind of healthy decadence. I feel your pain with regard to children eating more. Hubby's wondering why our grocery budget is on the rise and I just point at Dudette and her hollow legs.

  12. Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} says

    Carolyn we are living the same life! lol Our boys with hollow legs and their huge dads (my husband is 6'5"). If we ever got our families together in real life we would need a huge table with lots of food! lol ♥- Katrina

  13. Cake Duchess says

    Sounds exactly like my son. I have never found hazelnut flour. This cake looks delicious:)We bake with bananas all the time (and make smoothies too).Happy Mother's Day :)

  14. Nami @ Just One Cookbook says

    We need to thank your growing kids for such wonderful recipes you have been posting! I'm sure they are the inspiration to your cooking and baking. I never thought of freezing bananas for smoothies – thanks for the tip! Happy Mother's Day to you! Hope you will be pampered by your family. :-)

  15. MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College says

    Calling it banana cake makes it sound so cute and even more delicious than banana bread! This is definitely a must make. I am imagining a nutella, banana, like flavor and I can only imagine it is great.

  16. Cookin' Canuck says

    My boys are also in the stage of asking for second and third helpings. It is a challenge to keep them fed! This cake looks wonderful and I know my kids (okay, me too) would love it.

  17. freeeatsfood.com says

    That looks so moist and delicious. I love having "snacking cakes" around for afternoon munchies. Plus, you can sneak in some healthy ingredients so you don't feel so guilty letting the kids have a few servings! Thanks for sharing another great one.

  18. RLV @ bittensweetblog.com says

    There are 2 staples in my kitchen. Bananas + Chocolate. Thanks for the recipe! I'll definitely try this soon. Looks soo good.

  19. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having says

    Sounds amazing! What kid wouldn't love cake for breakfast. I like the idea of toasting the hazelnut flour, maybe chopped hazelnuts in the cake would add more flavour too.

  20. Lick My Spoon says

    I like the addition of hazel nut here. Carolyn, all I can say is a lot of moms out there would love to eb in your shoes and have chidren who eat like horses. Lucky you!

  21. Kate@Diethood says

    Hubz is 6'7?!? WOW! His Mama fed him well! 😉 Mine is 6'3 and he also needs a lot of feeding!

    My banana bread is in the oven … I wish I read this recipe before I made it!! Hazelnut, banana, chocolate, oh my deliciousness – YUMMMM!

  22. Karen says

    Even if this wasn't as hazelnutty as you'd hoped, it sounds delicious. I can imagine the hazelnut and banana combo being fantastic, and the chocolate chunks don't hurt either!
    Happy Mother's Day!

  23. MikeVFMK says

    Carolyn, this cake looks divine. People often say this wish they could reach through the screen a grab a piece. Well, I mean it! With a tall glass of milk preferably.

    It's a good sign kids are asking for more food. It means it's fantastic and one day they'll remember it all.

  24. Sara @ CaffeIna says

    Even if I don't have kids I have the same problem with bananas: they finish before been ripped. I usually buy them already ripped and next time I will, I want to try this cake. The banana hazelnut combo sounds fantastic even if you say it was not hazelnut intensive for you.

  25. Terra says

    My all time favorite cake is banana cake, my Father, Sister and I all request it for our Birthday's! Love the idea of adding hazelnuts and chocolate to the little piece of heaven:-) I understand where you are coming from, my hubby is 6'8" :-) Great idea making this a healthy snack! Hugs:-)

  26. marla says

    Happy Mother's Day! This cake/bread sounds amazing no matter what you call it. Love the hazelnut flour in it :) xo

  27. Juanita says

    I can imagine that would make your kids very happy…it looks delicious!
    It also looks like a great recipe to de-glutenise, as sour cream and bananas will help keep the moisture in for thirsty gluten-free flours. Thanks!

  28. briarrose says

    Delicious…a fairly healthy snack. Banana and chocolate always makes me a happy camper. Great stealthy nut addition too. :)

  29. arwenevenstar says

    The cake looks yum !! I am making this tomorrow. I love your pics. Could you also write a few posts as to how to take the pics.

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